What a comeback! Bob Costas returns to the cozy NBC set in Sochi on Monday night, and America rejoices. Costas will probably rejoice, too. Hopefully he’ll tell America exactly what was wrong with him, because if it really was pinkeye, there will be mass panic in the streets. Pinkeye is not exactly an exotic illness.
No matter. Costas is back and hopefully ready to spill all the gory details. Hopefully he looks better than the last time we saw him; if he doesn’t, no matter what the network airs, no one will be able to watch. Those poor red-rimmed eyes!
NBC will need Costas’s nimble storytelling Monday night, because he doesn’t have a lot to work with. Fog cancelled the men’s snowboard cross event, which would have gotten some air time.
Instead, the network decided to throw in the two-man bobsled, in which Steve Holcomb and Steve Langton broke a 62-year medal drought for the United States by taking bronze. Russia-1, with Alexander Zubkov at the helm, won gold and Switzerland-1 took silver. USA-2 and USA-3 finished 12th and 13th, respectively.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White ended a drought of their own, finally winning that elusive Olympic gold medal in ice dancing, a first for the United States, which previously had won a bronze (1976) and two silvers (2006 and 2010). Davis and White, who led after the short program, were the last to skate Monday and again had to overcome a challenge by their Canadian rivals, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They needed 112.11 points in the free skate to claim gold; they were awarded 116.63, pushing the Canadians to the silver. Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov took the bronze.
Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished eighth, and teammates Maia and Alex Shibutani were ninth.
Ice dancing should be a boon to NBC tonight, not only because of Davis and White, but because 20 couples skated in an event that lasted more than three hours. That’s a lot of content.
Because other than history being made in bobsled and ice dancing, not a lot happened Monday. American Mac Bohonnon made it through to the second final in freestyle aerials, but failed to advance to the third and finished fifth. Anton Kushnir of Belarus won the gold, with Australia’s Davis Morris taking silver and China’s Zongyan Jia the bronze.
That’s the lineup the network posted, but surely it will slip in a few highlights from the 6-1 victory by the U.S. women’s hockey team over Sweden in a semifinal. Canada won its semifinal as well, setting up the showdown that every expected when the two best teams in the world play for the gold medal Thursday.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. NBC will revel in the historic day and the return of the glue that holds its operation together. In the immortal words of a great TV show that NBC cancelled: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.